Theatre Performer Kris Alvarez Bridges Communities
Creator and independent theatre artist Kris Alvarez has a unique viewpoint on exploring culture and race. Born in the Philippines, Kris moved to Regina at the age of five after her family did a stint in Toronto.
“I’ve never looked Filipina to most people; I actually look quite mixed and I have a Spanish last name. It’s funny but also a bit challenging. That’s combined with the perspective of someone who grew up brown in Regina during the late 1970s and early 1980s and the sense of identity I developed,” says Kris.
After high school, Kris worked towards her BFA in theatre performance at the University of Regina before she chose “schooling in life.” Fate brought her to the artistic hub of Montreal for a decade where she “soaked in what was happening” and met her husband Eric. The couple returned to Regina in 2008 with their two young children.
Her current artistic project is a live variety show called Burnt Sienna with Kris Alvarez, presented by Curtain Razors. Burnt Sienna is playing at the venue partner Artesian on 13th in Regina (artesianon13th.ca) on December 7, 2019 and again during March and May 2020. The show opens with a monologue by Kris and then features a kitchen table conversation with “non-performers.” Burnt Sienna is part of her ongoing project “What Kind of Brown Are You?”
What led Kris to such a collective innovative approach to live theatre? Her mentor Joey Tremblay, the Regina-based artistic director of Curtain Razors, provided her with the advice that theatre is what you want it to be. Kris wanted to more fully represent diverse communities by including real people in her work.
At the heart of Kris’ work is collaborating with other artists. One example is her long-time friendship with Misty Wensel, currently artistic director of the popular FadaDance School. The pair performed with other artists at raves in the 1990s in “a different, non-traditional way, but we were performing.” Over the years, Kris has taught youngsters at both FadaDance School and the Globe Theatre in Regina.
A popular MC for events around the province, Kris recently served as artist in residence with Common Weal Community Arts’ Respond to Racism initiative (commonweal.ca). She continues to use performance to bridge stories of Indigenous people and newcomers to Canada.
Additionally, Kris is the creator of “Golden Potluck” — an event where the audience attends a dinner party with "older ones" from the community. Indigenous and immigrant women share their perspectives with Kris on family, culture and identity over a meal.
Currently, Kris lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in Regina’s Heritage area neighbourhood. Favourite local haunts that she frequents include T+A Vinyl and Fashion, and the family-oriented space that’s home to the microbrewery Malty National and 33 1/3 Coffee Roasters.